The biggest stumbling block we face in the goal to self-realisation is the ego. It feeds on itself and grows as we meet with success in the material sense. The ego manifests itself when we are not prepared to see the other person’s point of view and then, admit our fault. We like to think that we are always correct. In our belief, it reduces our stature if we admit our mistake. Such an attitude is not necessarily attached to success; parents have egos with their children, seniors have egos with their juniors. And I may be criticised here, but in the Asian way of life, it is normally husbands who have very large egos vis-à-vis their wives.
As a parent, how many times have you admitted to your child that you may have been wrong in rebuking him? As an older sibling, how many times have you apologised to your younger brother or sister for having been unfair with him/ her? Not many times, I am sure. There is no cure for this attitude except to follow the dictum of every wise man: Destroy the ego.
There are many ways to gradually de-emphasise your ego. Many group therapy classes abound in which participants criticise your behaviour, habits, attitudes, etc., in a bid to sensitise you to your drawbacks. Such classes are expensive, monetarily and emotionally, and sometimes prove to be a bit too harsh for some to handle.
I have a much more relaxed approach to handling the ego; add a dash of humour to the entire exercise. In my classes, instead of dissecting the individual, which makes him feel like a wet rag and resentful at the end of it, I encourage participants to make the approach very humorous. Such humour takes the sting out of the analytical process and yet gets the message across. Apart from classroom exercises, my cardinal rule to everyone is: Never take yourself seriously. We all develop egos because we acquire a very serious image of ourselves as we grow older and we do not like to be made fun of. We are very conscious of our ‘image’. But it is this projection of the image that makes us false and stressed. We will not laugh at jokes in the midst of people we consider our social ‘inferiors’ because we feel it would bring us down to their level.
On the other hand, we will laugh at things we do not understand merely because our ‘superiors’ laughed and we don’t wish to project an image of an ignoramus.
Just observe a child, see how it laughs without a care in the world. It does not care who is watching it, nor does it care if it is making a funny face. It is laughing because it is living the moment and it is a genuine feeling. Sadly, as we grow older, we are more conscious of the false values around us and we lose that spontaneity. I will return to the topic of humour again. Meanwhile, learn to laugh, as it increases your face value!
The writer is a renowned film and theatre actor
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